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Lynchburg man sentenced to 15 years from 2018 shooting
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Lynchburg man sentenced to 15 years from 2018 shooting

A judge signed off Wednesday on a 15-year sentence for a Lynchburg man convicted of voluntary manslaughter from a 2018 shooting in the Diamond Hill neighborhood.

Asa Jeremiah Hogue, 39, has been in jail awaiting the final say on his sentence since the close of his December 2019 trial, where a jury also convicted him on a charge of possessing a firearm as a felon.

That jury recommended he spend 15 years in prison between the two charges — which includes two years of mandatory minimum time for the gun charge — and Hogue appeared in Lynchburg Circuit Court for a judge to consider that recommendation.

Criminal sentencing law in Virginia changed July 1, now giving people who undergo a jury trial the option to be sentenced by a judge or a jury, but that law didn’t affect Hogue’s case.

Hogue originally was charged with second-degree murder and an additional charge of using a firearm in a felony in the death of 25-year-old Tyler Lorenzo Harris on Aug. 29, 2018.

Harris drove to an apartment in the 1200 block of 17th Street that afternoon with his girlfriend, according to her earlier testimony in the case, where he met up with Hogue. Harris and Hogue were friends and the two had been talking on the phone, and attorneys said Wednesday both were low-level drug dealers.

Vying for a first-degree murder conviction, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Pflieger presented evidence at trial that Hogue planned Harris’ death. He said Hogue obtained a gun illegally days before the shooting.

On Wednesday, Pflieger said the case was “simply a situation where [Hogue] egregiously overreacted to a bad situation,” and chose to escalate by firing a gun at Harris.

Paul Valois, Hogue’s attorney, claimed Harris attacked Hogue and was shot in an act of self-defense, citing other incidents where Harris had threatened to rob people. Valois said Hogue tried to hide from Harris and Harris came running to him. When Hogue shot Harris, Valois said, Hogue shot downward at Harris’ legs because he didn’t want to kill him.

Pflieger asked Lynchburg Circuit Judge F. Patrick Yeatts to uphold the jury’s recommendation, acknowledging it was well above the sentencing range that an evaluation suggested — anywhere from three years and seven months to eight years and eight months. Valois asked Yeatts to reduce the sentence to something within that range.

When given the chance to speak, Hogue said he’s realized while in jail he needs to get himself together and move forward, past the drugs.

Yeatts said he didn’t find any justification to reduce the sentence the jury settled on, thus finalizing it. After Hogue’s sentence, he’ll be on supervised probation for three years. He’ll receive credit for the time he’s served so far in jail.

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